The PrimRose Donkey Sanctuary

Donkey Tails Blog

Donkey Tails blog is a well written, informative and very interesting blog by volunteer Vivian about PrimRose Donkey Sanctuary and their animals at the wonderful donkey sanctuary in the Roseneath Ontario area. 

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Why Do Donkeys Roll

Posted by PrimRose on April 9, 2018 at 6:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Donkeys roll in the dirt for different reasons and during different seasons. It is interesting to watch. In the early spring donkeys roll to fluff their coats which helps with insulation when nights are still cold. In late spring donkeys roll to help with shedding of their winter coat. In summer donkeys roll in dust and mud to keep the flies at bay. Donkeys will also roll if there is any itchy spot on their coats as the mud can be soothing. Often donkeys will prepare a spot to roll by pawing with their hoof to loosen the dirt. They often take turns using the same area. Usually the donkeys prefer not to be groomed right after rolling as this negates the purpose of the mud. Of course donkeys roll just for the fun of it as well!


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Donkey Ears

Posted by PrimRose on April 3, 2018 at 6:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Donkey hearing is quite similar to other equines but due to ear size donkeys can pick up sounds from quite far away. Interestingly the ears can move separately from each other.

Indiana Jones is listening to me as well as something in the opposite direction with the other ear.

Jenny is listening behind her.

Here Jenny is listening behind her as well as off to the side.

Virgil has got his full attention on me and is listening very intently. Probably hoping to hear that it is dinner time and he better hurry to the barn. He has learned that he has to eat before his good friend Finegan who eats as fast as he can and then finishes off Virgil’s dinner. When donkeys are resting both ears often relax and point to the side. When both ears are pointed to the back and down tight to the head the donkey is giving a warning he is unhappy and it is best to steer clear. Something we rarely see at the sanctuary!


Mutual Grooming

Posted by PrimRose on March 26, 2018 at 7:15 AM Comments comments (0)

It is quite interesting to watch two donkeys decide to mutually groom each other. They stand ever so slightly side by side and then muzzle along the other donkey’s side as if trying to find and agree on which is the right spot. Meanwhile at the exact same time the other donkey is doing the same nuzzling on the other side. Somehow they communicate that this is the right spot and they begin grooming at the same time, nibbling with their teeth. This goes on for a few minutes. Favourite spots are along the neck, withers or shoulders. If you are looking to get into a donkey’s good books, scratching those areas mentioned above or the base of the tail or the cheeks of the rump are great places to start. Some donkeys like to have the inside of their ears gently stroked. Here is Joey and Jenny grooming each other.


Donkey Grooming

Posted by PrimRose on March 20, 2018 at 7:15 AM Comments comments (0)

This is a very informative video by the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada on donkey grooming.


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Naming Donkeys

Posted by PrimRose on March 14, 2018 at 7:05 AM Comments comments (0)

When a new Donkey comes to the sanctuary they often are already named. Reasons that they may be renamed is that they don’t respond to the name therefore not knowing it is their’s or if the name does not suit them. If a donkey has a name , recognizes it but it is still changed the first consonant sound is kept same as that is what the donkey recognizes. Here on the left is Moon, good friend of Star, who's small white star can be seen on the forehead. Marching over is Indiana Jones also called Indie. These three were already named.

In this photo is Finegan mule already named and the buried head is likely Karl. The tall mule on the right is Jessie. When she came her name was Jezebel which did not suit her so she was renamed.

The white donkey on the left is Sally with her six year old son Oliver. The dark donkey is Robbie and the tall donkey is Joey. Sally was rescued from an auction and was pregnant with son Oliver. They were both named after arriving at the sanctuary. Oliver was named after Sheila's cat that had passed away the day before Oliver was born. Oliver kitty passed away at age 23! Robbie was also named after arriving at the sanctuary and his full name is Robbie Burns :) Joey, well his name just suits him perfectly!

As any visitor to the sanctuary would agree the names are carefully chosen and suit each animal.



Posted by PrimRose on March 5, 2018 at 8:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Virgil is a small mule and had a donkey father and horse mother. It is possible Virgil has some Shetland pony in him noticeable in his colouring. Virgil has been at the sanctuary for years but remains very cautious around humans. This is the story of his rescue. Sheila got a call there was a mule for sale at an animal auction. When she arrived the auctioneer was prodding Virgil with an electric cattle prod making him squeal in pain which many there found humorous. So his caution around humans is for a good reason. On occasion Virgil will chase donkeys away from the hay bale but this does not happen often. He tends to associate with other mules and hinnies in particular Finegan mule. Both Virgil and Finegan get some extra nutrition in their own bowls but Virgil has learned he is better off eating alone as Finegan will eat as fast as he can then go after Virgil’s bowl. Virgil is quite a favourite at the sanctuary! Come and meet him Thursday and Sunday from 1-4pm all year round. Here's the link to our location:


Donkey Reproduction

Posted by PrimRose on February 27, 2018 at 6:55 AM Comments comments (0)

All male animals at the sanctuary are neutered preferably prior to arrival or they are segregated and are neutered here. As all the animals at the sanctuary are rescued it is clear there are many unwanted animals and reproduction is not desirable. Neutering is preferable prior to arrival at the sanctuary. Unneutered jacks cause the female animals (jennets) to go into heat which can get disruptive. Female donkeys can go into heat their entire lives but pregnancy before the age of 3 and after 40 is very hard on the animal. Jennets are pregnant for 12 months and rarely have twins. Going into heat begins between 8 months and two years. Heat lasts for 6-9 days and occurs every 23-30 days. Jacks become sexually mature between 8 months and a year. Unless a jack is used for breeding it is easiest to castrate just before weaning around 6 months. Jacks should not be used for breeding before the age of 2 years. Uncastrated jacks do not make good pets as they can be aggressive and difficult to handle. This is Sally who was pregnant when she arrived at the sanctuary and is often found with her 6 year old son Oliver at her side.


Donkey Body Language

Posted by PrimRose on February 21, 2018 at 8:05 AM Comments comments (1)

As well as braying to communicate, which has many different meanings, donkeys, mules and hinnies also use body language. Of course there is the infamous donkey kick and they do nip each other, and simply walking away from someone or something they are not interested in are all indicative of of displeasure. Like many animals laying the ears back flat against the head is also a donkey warning. In the first photo Gordon the hinny does have his ears back but they are not flat against his head. This is his “look at me, see how hungry and cute I am” and there is no warning here at all.

However look at Wilson the hinny on the left in the second photo. His ears are flat back and he is very displeased. He may even nip Gordon as he is jealous and sure Gordon is going to get a treat and he is not. Just to set the record straight: this as never happened as the boys are always treated equally but Wilson’s body language is always the same if he feels left out.


Kitty Lamonte

Posted by PrimRose on February 13, 2018 at 6:10 AM Comments comments (1)

Five years ago Kitty Lamonte came to the sanctuary because his mother rejected him at birth. Kitty was bottle fed by Sheila in the house for the first few weeks. The cats at the sanctuary are called for dinner by “kitty, kitty” and the little lamb associated dinner time with kitty as well. That is how he earned his name. When he was able to feed himself he moved to the barn. Shortly after Preston the goat was also rescued and the two would race around the barn playing and butting heads. In the winter Kitty moves into the barn to keep Bernice an elderly goat company, as Preston and Vanna goat do not share the outside shelter and food in the winter. In the spring Kitty and Bernice will move outside to join the other two.Kitty is shorn once a year in the spring. Sometimes on a tour I am asked if Kitty’s black freckle indicates a breed of sheep but it does not, it is a birthmark. Often when we are in the barn we can feel eyes watching us and sure enough it is Kitty watching our every move. Yesterday when I felt eyes on me Kitty was lying down. When we had gazed at other for awhile he stood up and rested his head on the railing and continued watching. Here is his cute face framed by the railing.


Donkey Vision

Posted by PrimRose on February 7, 2018 at 8:00 AM Comments comments (3)

Donkeys use their eyes as one of their main detectors of danger. At the sanctuary I have seen a donkey staring off into the distance seeing movement long before I do. Donkeys can use both eyes to focus on objects called binocular vision or use one eye only for monocular vision. There are blind spots directly behind and in front of a donkey. Donkeys have very good night vision although their eyes need time to adjust from bright light to low light conditions which is why the donkeys will stand for a few moments when coming into the barn after being outside. Also give a donkey’s eyes time to adjust when loading onto a trailer. As Patsy and Jenny at the sanctuary demonstrate, donkeys adjust well to complete or partial blindness. Donkeys are so stoic that often owners will not notice if they are going blind. Symptoms can include abrupt head movements when a moving object enters their sight line or movingtheir heads to be able to see an object, both of which Jenny demonstrates. If possible a blind donkey’s stall should be kept clear of obstacles and regular items such as food, water and salt licks should be kept in the same location. It is important to speak frequently when around a blind donkey. Also touching helps blind donkey be aware of where you are. As visitors and volunteers at the sanctuary can testify Patsy has perfected using her braying to let us know what she wants. Braying in the stall can mean feed me or take me out, which we do with a lead line. It can also mean open my stall so I can wonder the barn tonight or I don’t have enough hay. If Patsy is in the yard or field braying means get a lead line and take me in. Once when I was leading Patsy a gate was not open and she banged her forehead which meant I had to earn her trust to be able to lead her again.

Blind donkeys can form bonds with seeing donkeys who become their seeing eyes. This happened with Patsy, first Amos, then Jonathon Cupcake stepped forward to guide Patsy. Sadly both have passed away. Blindness can be caused by eye disease such as infections and cataracts, old age or perhaps genetic, if a foal is born blind or with one eye. Blind donkeys can lead a full life as they are so adaptable and often a companion Donkey will step forward to help as well.